In early 2009, a team of blue t-shirt clad Bank Executives waked into 30 different schools scattered around the Island with a mission in mind. They wanted to help teachers transform their schools to places where kids would enjoy coming to and parents would be proud of sending their children. After one year of committed [...]


DFCC continues to instill environmental awareness in children

Project already implemented in 100 schools

In early 2009, a team of blue t-shirt clad Bank Executives waked into 30 different schools scattered around the Island with a mission in mind. They wanted to help teachers transform their schools to places where kids would enjoy coming to and parents would be proud of sending their children.

After one year of committed work, the schools and kids bloomed like flowers in summer. Encouraged by the transformations, the Bank staff from DFCC branches continued to improve 30 schools every year going up to 100 this year. The silent work they carried out has benefitted almost 45,000 students mostly in the outstations.

DFCC is implementing ‘6S’ and ‘3R’ concepts in schools with a view to improving productivity. Rosheeni Wijesekera, the Head of Corporate Communications shared her thoughts on the benefits and challenges faced in implementing the project.

What is involved in implementing this programme in schools?

It is a holistic programme to introduce, educate and train primary school teachers and students in the use and application of the Japanese Principles of ‘5S’ with an added ‘S’ for Safety, and ‘3R’ environmental concepts which is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Every year since 2009, we have been inviting schools to apply for the programme through the Ministry of Education. Schools are selected by a panel depending on the keenness of the staff and the physical need of the school for such a programme. An undertaking by the Principle of the school to deploy resources and stay with the project for one year was essential to make a perceivable difference after implementing the year long programme.

Winner of the 3R competition conducted at Polommaruwa model school Tangalle. Buddhi Upeksha Nanayakkara with her portrait of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa which was made using waste paper material

In Schools, change begins with teachers who have a positive outlook. To effect such change, initially and on an on-going basis, seminars and workshops related to positive thinking, change management, leadership development, teamwork and creative thinking are conducted using experts in the respective fields. A consultant and his team visits schools every quarter to mentor and monitor progress.

In the longer term how is this project beneficial to society?

During our many years of project financing for the SME sector, we have observed that productivity levels in Sri Lankan enterprises are very low. A key reason is probably the lack of an organized environment, which promotes efficiency. Learning from the Japanese, we decided to introduce the ‘6S’ system to primary school children who will better absorb the principles early in their life and be organized citizens, contributing to becoming a more efficient work force.

Secondly, through the adoption of ‘3R’ concepts, children are taught values of environmental guardianship thus instilling a respect for the environment and the need to conserve resources.

How does your project instill an appreciation of the environment in children?

The school curriculum has a subject to teach children all about the environment. Our programme supplements the knowledge, by encouraging children to indulge in practical activities that later become part and parcel of their day to day living.

We give them guidelines under Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. Children are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas which will be approved for implementation by the 3R Quality Circle in the school. Quality Circle teachers are given continuous training on how to bring out the best in children. At the end of one year, schools are judged and points awarded on how best children have assimilated the concepts.

Some areas that they focus on are reducing the use of water, electricity, stationery and absenteeism, eliminating polythene, reusing furniture and recycling garbage.

In addition to these there are three events conducted in schools under this theme; Wesak lantern competition using waste material, 3R creative competition, and Tree Planting to coincide with World Environment Day.

What are the challenges you had to overcome when introducing the programme to schools?

We faced three major hurdles but overcame all of them. Finding money to develop and upkeep the basic infrastructure of a school is a perennial problem and a major stumbling block for teachers. Most schools in the programme were located in remote areas of the country. Raising the condition of classrooms, sanitation, drainage, drinking water and new equipment all cost additional investment, which the school or parents could not provide.

K.G.Sumudu Priyankara a student holding his creation, a reading lamp made out of Coconut shell and a plastic bottle

Secondly, during the initial stages of the project we came across Teachers, parents and even some Principles of schools who believed that the project was too ambitious and beyond what they could achieve.

Thirdly, the classes selected for the project were from the primary section of schools; hence Teachers could not have progressed without the involvement of parents to uplift the school infrastructure. The kids were too young to help in work such as painting and mending.

At the end of one year of implementing the project, what did DFCC hope to achieve in schools?

Introducing schools to any non-curricular programme that calls for change is a tedious task. Therefore we first attempted to change the mindset of teachers as well as parents. Secondly we expected schools to under go noticeable changes in terms of the condition of the school buildings, surrounding gardens, arrangement of the classrooms and overall cleanliness.

Thirdly we looked for positive changes in the behavior of students in the classroom and outside. We noticed that after full implementation of the project, attendance improved in schools, children were happier and improved productivity levels were observed.

What was the involvement of the staff in implementation? 

Each selected school was the responsibility of a team from the closest branch. Employee volunteerism on the project was very high with 560 heads giving 6020 volunteer hours. They engaged as mentors and friends of the schools assigned to them. The volunteers also helped monitor each of the schools through regular visits and kept up a constant check on the implementation process. The enthusiasm actually turned into a mini competition between the volunteers who competing to bring out the best results. In this respect the project not only served the children but also the staff of DFCC, by giving them an opportunity to foster team spirit.

After one year DFCC will exit these schools and move on to others. What is the incentive for schools to upkeep the practices put into place?

To ensure the continued application of ‘6S’ principles we have given teachers and parents of these schools the necessary training to independently sustain the program.

A system was put in place whereby selected Teachers from the 30 schools were trained in auditing each other’s schools. For instance a teacher from Udubdalawa Sudharshana MV in Kurunegala will audit Sri Nissanka MV in Kurunegala. We are also discussing other methods of rewarding schools and teachers who are committed to continuing the practices.

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